|Antique quilt made by author's great grandmother, Kizzie Pieratt|
|Trail of Thread series, featuring the author's descendants' first years in Kansas, 1854-1865.|
For example, Deborah and John Pieratt, featured in the first book of my Trail of Thread series, left Kentucky in 1854 when the Territory of Kansas was formed. They were part of the thousands of families that packed wagons and headed east for the promise of a new life. Quilts would have been used for bedding—in the wagon or on the ground, as a hanging shelter, or as a partition for privacy. They were also used for burial of loved ones along the trail.
|Margaret Ralston Kennedy|
Orphaned Maggie Kennedy, portrayed in Stitch of Courage, the last book in the series, followed her brothers to Kansas looking for a better life as the states fought out the history of the Civil War. Women made and gave quilts for the soldiers to use during their journeys and battles.
|Maggie Kennedy Pieratt|
The young woman on the trail packed quilts to use, but also to bring memories of her family left behind to her new frontier home.
The older woman—who stitched directions in her quilt that hung outside to air— gave freedom to people trying to escape a bad life.
The soldier wrapped in a dirty quilt, trying to keep warm and get a bit of sleep, was given the security of knowing that someone from home was thinking of him and waiting for his return.
|Quilt passed down through author's family, circa 1830s|
Think of the countless hours of work and devotion it took to create these pioneer quilts. These finished masterpieces of the fingers gave a sense of accomplishment to the makers, and comfort and connection to the users.
Do you have a special quilt passed down through your family? What does it mean to you?